Ahmed Hosni Wadie
Kurdish national leader Abdullah Öcalan spends his days incarcerated in full pride and dignity, like all leaders of liberation movements against fascism and despotism.
Öcalan does this despite the arrogance of his Turkish jailers. He spends his days in the darkness of his jail cell. However, he illuminates this cell with his belief in freedom. Disarmed as he is, he is armed to the teeth with his thoughts which fuel the Kurdish pursuit of statehood.
The 22nd anniversary of Öcalan’s abduction in Nairobi, Kenya, falls a few days from now. On 15 February 1999 he appeared in the hands of a Turkish jailer.
Öcalan is the only liberation leader currently behind bars. The international community stands idly by and watches as he spends his life in incarceration. It turns a blind eye not only to his jailing, but also to Turkish arrogance. In jailing Öcalan, the Turkish state violates all international human rights charters.
International media quoted Öcalan’s lawyer, Ibrahim Bilmez, in late September last year as saying that the Turkish prosecution had turned down all requests for meeting Öcalan in prison. “We filed these requests more than a year ago”, Bilmez said. Turkish authorities have put up a barrier around the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The strange thing is that when they arrested Öcalan, Turkish authorities accused him of founding a terrorist organisation. Two decades later, the Kurds face threats from the meanest terrorist organisation in the world, namely the Islamic State, which receives support from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Who is the real terrorist then?
Öcalan’s armed resistance against fascist imperialism was legitimate. This course was followed by most national liberation leaders in the Middle East and Africa. This was never terrorism, even as fascist forces insist on giving it this tag. The real terrorism is enacted by Turkey, which backs extremist groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya, within an imperialist project known as the “New Middle East”.
Any comparisons between a revolutionary leader like Öcalan and a terrorist and criminal like Erdoğan will do the Kurdish liberation leader a gross injustice. However, the same comparisons can show the real differences between the two men.
International powers are in the dark about the internal workings of the Arab Spring. They are in the dark about the fact that Erdoğan works to tear up nation states in the region by offering full support to political Islam. He does all this in his pursuit to revive the Ottoman Empire.
Bringing peace and security back to the region in general, and to Syria and Iraq in particular, can only be achieved by backing democratic visions. Öcalan carried one of these visions. They aim to open the door for democratic societies where citizens enjoy all rights and freedoms and participate in the governance of their countries without any discrimination against minorities.
The fact is that this can only happen when there is a clear-cut definition of who is a real terrorist. Does this term apply to those who back terrorist organisations, or to those who carry arms to defend the rights of their people to a dignified life against despotism?
Ahmed Hosni Wadie is an Egyptian political researcher.